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Tech Time: Alphabet units, others form AI partnership

In this feature, S&P Global Market Intelligence presents a bi-weekly global roundup of the latest developments in technology.

TOP STORY

* Alphabet Inc.'s DeepMind/Google, Amazon.com Inc., Facebook Inc., IBM Corp. and Microsoft Corp. joined forces to work on artificial intelligence technologies, according to a Sept. 28 release. The new nonprofit organization, called Partnership on AI, will invite academics, nonprofits, and specialists in policy and ethics to join its board as it conducts research, recommends best practices and publishes research.

CLOUD

* Huawei teamed up with Intelligent Security Systems to provide surveillance solutions to Middle East law enforcement authorities, TradeArabia reported Oct. 7. Under the partnership, ISS' smart video surveillance products will be integrated into Huawei's cloud-based infrastructure.

* AT&T Inc. partnered with IBM to offer cloud networking to businesses, according to an Oct. 5 news release. The partnership allows IBM to utilize AT&T's FlexWare, which helps set up and manage virtual network functions on a single device. AT&T will also be able to use IBM's cloud as well as its cognitive, analytics and security infrastructure.

* Google Inc. announced plans to establish a data center in Mumbai by 2017, in a move to catch up with cloud rivals Microsoft and Amazon Web Services Inc. in the Indian market, Mint reported Sept. 30. Google's Cloud Platform services is expected to become faster for Indian customers once the facility opens.

* Google has renamed its Google for Work business-to-business cloud computing brand as Google Cloud. The product now offers AI-enhanced apps to store, manage and process data, Reuters reported Sept. 29, citing Diane Greene, senior vice president of Google's enterprise unit.

5G AND THE INTERNET OF THINGS

* NOS inked a strategic partnership with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., Digital TV Europe reported Oct. 10. The two companies agreed to work together in the areas of networks and technology, including IoT, broadband and video services.

* Brazilian operator Algar Telecom teamed up with IT solutions provider PromonLogicalis to develop a platform for a planned smart city in Uberlândia, Brazil, Telecompaper reported Oct. 10. The smart city project will feature intelligent lighting fixtures, environmental sensors and a control platform for IoT sensors, among others.

* Australia's Singtel Optus Pty. Ltd said Oct. 6 that it signed a memorandum of understanding with Nokia Corp. to collaborate on developing its 5G network. The two companies will conduct a trial of a 5G prototype across Optus' 3,500 MHz spectrum, with plans to roll out the technology in 2017.

* Comcast Corp. unveiled Oct. 5 its new enterprise trial venture, machineQ, which will focus on building business-to-business services and an IoT platform. Comcast will work with select commercial entities for the use of its network to help partners gather, transmit and analyze data from connected devices within their organizations.

* AT&T will offer three data bucket plans geared toward developers and businesses to connect their Internet of Things projects wirelessly, the company said Oct. 5. Available later in October, the data plans will be able to power up to a thousand devices on AT&T's network, while enabling developers to deploy their devices and IoT solutions.

VIRTUAL REALITY AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

* IMAX Corp. will launch its first European virtual reality entertainment center in Manchester, U.K., in partnership with ODEON & UCI Cinemas Group Ltd, Variety reported Oct. 11. The IMAX VR center will open at the Printworks multiplex at the end of 2016.

* Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. will acquire U.S.-based AI startup Viv Labs Inc., the company said Oct. 6. Viv Labs' Viv platform enables developers to build voice recognition-based assistants and interfaces for apps and services. Samsung expects the acquisition to bolster its efforts to develop an AI-based open ecosystem across its product lineup.

* Sky plc on Oct. 3 launched its VR app Sky VR, which offers access to immersive, 360-degree video content. The pay TV giant will introduce more content and VR features to the app over the coming months.

* Microsoft created a group dedicated to AI, the company said Sept. 29. Called Microsoft AI and Research Group, the new group will bring together Microsoft's research organization, computer scientists and engineers to work on the company's AI product efforts.

DRONES AND OTHER DEVICES

* Walt Disney Co. is working with Oculus VR, Inc. to bring its programming to the Oculus Rift and Gear VR head-mounted displays, VentureBeat.com reported Oct. 6. Oculus Content Producer Yelena Rachitsky said Walt Disney Studios is making a film for the headsets and will also bring other properties to VR.

* Oculus has unveiled a prototype of a stand-alone virtual reality headset and several other products during the third annual Oculus Connect VR developers conference. In an Oct. 5 official blog post, Oculus said the device prototype dubbed "Santa Cruz" has an inside-out tracking feature.

* Google on Oct. 4 released its new Pixel smartphone, as well as a new virtual reality headset dubbed Daydream View that along with the phone creates a mobile VR experience. One of the phone's features is its integration with Daydream VR, a platform that connects the phone with the headset.

* Alcatel launched a GPS-enabled smartwatch for children aged five to nine dubbed MOVE Track&Talk in South Africa, IT News Africa reported Oct. 4. The device enables children to communicate with pre-approved contacts, while allowing parents to track their children's location via a dedicated smartphone app.

* Apple Inc. is in talks with Japan's Sharp Corp. to buy organic LED displays for Apple's future devices, Bloomberg News reported Sept. 29, citing a source familiar with the subject. The iPhone maker wants to increase the number of suppliers for OLED screens, and a deal reportedly will depend on Sharp's output capacity.

* Aetna Inc. said Sept. 27 that it will offer discounts on the Apple Watch to selected individual and employer customers beginning in the autumn. The offer is part of a partnership that also involves developing Aetna's health apps for iOS-powered devices.